“What will we remember about covid? The horror, the fear of death, elders drowning alone, friends standing on empty streets with the sound of sirens in the background, children unable to visit their dying parents, the absences, the emptinesses, the stupidity, the fury, the revelation of just how little our political system cares about the lives of working families. There was succulence too, a forgetfulness, a coziness even, tucked away as we were like animals in crevices as a storm raged. There was time, not timeliness. As a historical period, covid was a pool of stagnant water. But in pools of stagnant water, new life can form. This was not a time for learning, but I learned.
I am ready for new days. I am ready for new stories. After the forced stillness, the desire to live is returning. To live is to be around others now. That’s all it is.”1
Strangely, I kept great time during the pandemic in some ways…
I started writing again, joined a writing group that helped give shape to my days, did virtual movement chaplaincy both as part of a team weekly and taking a class on it as well.
As someone who’d experienced past trauma, I knew how to compartmentalize and make goals and meet them. In fact, it was part of my survival mechanism, so strongly engrained that I immediately reverted to that mode of being within a few weeks of lockdown.
…I’m emerging, all of us are emerging, and none of us is the same as we were.
It’s only been now, as the restrictions lift, cases go down, and I start to re-engage with the world that I find myself feeling unable to muster the will power to do the things I wanted to do on schedule. Like doing an installment of the Poisoned Bible Project monthly. That seemed reasonable when I started but until this week, I couldn’t muster the mental energy to study the texts and buckle down.
Likewise writing the first draft of the book I’m working on stalled and I was stuck on the same chapter for three weeks until my writing group today where I had multiple breakthroughs, wrote over half of it in one sitting, and figured out how to tie the rest together.
And then I sat down and looked through other texts that you all have submitted and I’m working on the order to tackle them in based on what books and resources I already have on hand, then working out towards the ones I need additional commentaries etc for.
I will find a way to balance the hours I need to spend writing with my time in the woods, I will ;-)
The time in the woods is part of all of this too though, providing perhaps more questions than answers right now, but also some great stories that are already weaving themself into the fabric of the book as it emerges.
It’s emerging, I’m emerging, all of us are emerging, and none of us is the same as we were. There is no “there” to return to, only the future to move into. We all must get acquainted with our new selves on the other side of this and reacquainted with each other.
It’s never too late to start writing our own stories. I can’t wait to hear them all.
And we are the lucky ones, living this summer with lowered restrictions, hoping there’s not a variant that can best the vaccines, watching as the virus continues to rage in other parts of the world. We can’t be certain if this is the end or a reprieve.
Each of us has unexamined and pent up emotions that we couldn’t face in the strange loop of time we were caught inside this past 15 months or so. We couldn’t face them or process them in the midst of all of it.
Now in this respite, or hopefully the end, we must make time to metabolize them. To incorporate them cleanly into our lives so they have no opportunities to fester.
We who survived have a new opportunity, and indeed an obligation to those who did not survive, to make the world over anew, to work to end the injustices laid ever plainer in the harsh Covid-light, and to step into these new versions of ourselves.
I hope that also leads to all of us leading life with fewer regrets about things undone, leaving fewer visions and dreams unexplored. It’s never too late to start writing our own stories. I can’t wait to hear them all.
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Stephan Marche “As the pandemic retreats, we’re left wondering what we’ve been through” The Washington Post, June 11, 2021.